tv NBC Nightly News NBC July 22, 2012 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
tonight the red flags about the suspect in the days before that movie theater rampage. this as the president arrives in aurora, colorado to grieve with victims and their families. unprecedented sanctions. penn state pulls down a giant symbol of joe paterno as the ncaa prepares to unleash a devastating punishment on the university. olympic fever. we are live in london, a city gripped by excitement just five days until the games begin. and when you're smiling the whole world smiles with you.
our conversation with yokoono about what gave her the power to heal after the loss of john lenin. this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt reporting from london. >> the 2012 summer olympic games are just five days away. amid the last minute frenzy of getting ready to host the world a lot of hearts and minds here american and british are focused on the shocking tragedy still unfolding at aurora, colorado. president obama arrived there late today to express his sorrow and concern for victims, their families and a shaken community. the president will speak from aurora later tonight. kate snow has been on the scene since friday and she joins us to lead our coverage of the theater shooting. good evening. >> reporter: good evening to you lester from aurora, colorado
where the investigation into the suspect james holmes has taken several new turns but tonight this focus here in this field behind me where a vigil is being held is on the victims. 12 people killed, 58 more wounded. 24 remain in the hospital, nine of them in critical condition. tonight the president is mourning along with the families who suffered overwhelming loss. miguel, good evening. >> the president has arrived here in aurora to meet with first responders and the victims. the vigils here are growing larger as the community comes together. >> reporter: on a day of prayer and reflection a community torn apart by violence comes together. >> lots of us, maybe all of us, keep asking why. >> reporter: today they remember the victims.
>> john larimer. >> eventually you get the spirit to move on but we'll never forget. >> reporter: in texas jessica ghawi's parents are grieving. >> no parent should go through that. >> reporter: as families mourn survivors struggle to make sense of the blood shed. >> there was nowhere to hide cht. >> reporter: nothing prepared her for this. she lost her friend staff sergeant jesse childress. >> him dying has been the hardest thing because you know i ended up with some buck shot in my hand but his life is gone. >> reporter: aurora was just ranked the ninth safest city in the country. at rosy's diner the busy sunday breakfast crowd is still in shock. >> this is our theater. you would never guess something weird like that was going to
happen in your backyard. >> reporter: cheryl has three daughters. raina is six years old the same age as the youngest victim, veronica moser-sullivan. >> i tried to explain it as much as i can so i don't have to go to details. >> reporter: three days have passed since the shooting. the emotion and tears here are still fresh as is the pain. tonight hundreds if not thousands are expected for a memorial behind us. kate, the governor and several of the victims will be here tonight. >> people already starting to gather. thank you so much. we are learning tonight much more about the 12 people who died from their wounds here. we are hearing from family and friends about what they were like. we are seeing some of the faces of some for the very first time including that six-year-old girl who was at the movies with her mom. we get their stories tonight. >> reporter: 12 people killed in
a simple act of going to the movies. sometimes the real super heroes aren't on the big screen. jonathan blunk wanted to be a navy seal but his life ended in the line of fire at home. >> what a great hero he is. he provided me the opportunity to survive. >> reporter: matthew mcquinn took a bullet shielding his girlfriend and a brother. 24-year-old alexander teves was hit. jesse childress died trying to save a female air force colleague. friday was alex sullivan's 27th birthday. today would have been his one-year wedding anniversary. veronica moser-sullivan's mother was still in critical condition when she was told she will never again see the six year old who loved to play dressup. alexander boik was secretly engaged to his girlfriend. >> played on the baseball team.
>> reporter: jessica ghawi was well loved, too, an aspiring sports reporter. micayla medek an avid green bay packers fan. rebecca wingo was a working mom pursuing a degree. and 27-year-old john larimer a petty officer in the navy, the youngest of five siblings. >> he was an outstanding ship mate, a valued member of our navy team and an extremely dedicated sailor. >> reporter: the oldest victim gordon cowden was a devoted father at the movie with his teenagers. 12 lives lost to their loved ones and the world. >> and now to the latest on the investigation into the suspect, james holmes. while a motive for the shooting isn't yet clear a fuller picture is emerging of a detailed plan of attack that was months in the
making. >> reporter: good evening, kate. one of the investigators who came out of the formerly booby trapped apartment say it was a sophisticated plan, a plan long on details and short on mistakes and ultimate the goal was maximum may hem. when the investigation of james holmes began early saturday morning it became clear how complicated the task might be. wh bomb technicians used a controlled explosion to disable the trip wires and other triggers in his apartment police knew they were dealing with what they called an intricate scenario. they found 30 softball sized explosive devices. they also found items related to paint ball battles, a poster of a warrior in battle gear and reportedly one computer. police say holmes purchased four
weapons like these at local sporting goods stores but much of the ammo was allegedly purchased online and shipped to his apartment. >> we think this begins to explain how he got his hands on the magazines and ammunition. >> reporter: a spokesman at the university of colorado confirmed that the school is cooperating with the police probe of any shipments to a campus address used by holmes. one online supplier cat 5 shipped $306 on july 2nd. and the manager was shaken by reports of how the gear was allegedly used. >> we were all shocked and appalled. >> reporter: holmes didn't get everything he wanted. he applied online to join a local gun range but the manager told nbc news the suspect's answering machine message made him supicious. >> i told the staff nothing
happens until i meet him. >> reporter: police chief dan oates said the evidence is overwhelming. >> the most important way is that we put this evidence together. >> do you think you have a strong case against mr. holmes? >> we will convict him. >> reporter: holmes remains in the arapahoe county jail segregated. no visitors received. still not talking to the police. he has his first court appe appearance tomorrow. >> as we have seen following mass shootings in the past tonight there are renewed calls for tougher gun laws from some lawmakers across the country, the topic of gun control hasn't come up much during this presidential campaign year but suddenly is thrust into the spot light. >> reporter: in the after math of the tragedy a call for both
presidential candidates to take a stand on guns. >> and it is time i think that we hold them accountable and say you want our votes, what are you going to do? >> reporter: also a push for a new assault weapons ban. >> pure and simple, weapons of war don't belong on the streets. >> reporter: gun control measures have been losing political support. in a recent poll more say protecting gun rights is more important than controlling gun ownership that caps a two decade trend. as a candidate president obama backed a ban on assault weapons. >> don't tell me we can't uphold the second amendment while keeping ak-47s out of the hands of criminals. >> reporter: while mitt romney signed an assault weapons ban he says he opposes new restrictions. >> because our politicians are not defending the safety of the american people. >> reporter: friday's mass killing has reignited the debate. >> this is an issue about sick
demeanted individuals. it is a tragedy. i don't think there is a solution in washington to solve the problem. >> reporter: this as colorado's governor questioned if anything could stop a man bent on murder. >> you look at this person as again almost a creature. if he couldn't have gotten access to the guns what kind of bomb would he have manufactured? >> reporter: there is a bottom line consensus here in washington today. we are unlikely to see new gun control legislation coming out of congress this election year. >> we will have much more from aurora, colorado tonight on a special edition of "date line." at 7 eastern, 6 central. thank you very much. another big story we are watching tonight, the hammer is about to come down on penn state university in the wake of a cover up of the jerry sandusky
child sex abuse scandal. today the statue of the legendary football coach joe paterno was unsermoniously removed as word came tomorrow the ncaa will have harsh sanctions against the university. >> reporter: under orders from penn state's president construction crews arrived before dawn today and began removing a controversial statue of the legendary coach joe paterno who died six months ago today. more than 100 students gathered as the statue was gathered away under a blue tarp leaving an empty void. >> i think it is sad that this is happening. i think he is being used as a scapegoat. >> reporter: the move comes as the ncaa prepares to impose sanctioning tomorrow which could include loss of scholarships and
a multi-year ban on bowl games. >> the reports are that the penalties are going to be very, very severe and they must be severe because if they are not severe penn state has skated free basically in what is without doubt the worst scandal in the history of intercollegiate sports. >> reporter: penn state wasn't commenting on the pending ncaa decision but the action comes on the wake of a withering internal report that found top university oofficials including paterno concealed evidence of former defensive coach jerry sandusky's child sex abuse for years. >> the evidence shows that mr. paterno was made aware of the investigation of sandusky, followed it closely but failed to take any action. >> reporter: the report also found paterno played a key role in a decision three years later by penn state officials not to report another allegation of
abuse by sandusky in the football locker room showers. today penn state president said it was a recurring wound to victims of child abuse across the country. >> the statue has no place as a public reminder to those who were hurt so badly by mr. paterno. >> reporter: the paterno family reacted ang riley in a statement today saying tearing down the statue of joe paterno does not serve the victims of jerry sandusky's horrible crimes or help heal the penn state community. >> thanks. still ahead as "nbc nightly news" continues from london five days to go and the brits have a serious case of olympic fever. a pleasant surprise today something folks here haven't seen in weeks. later yoko ono making a splash
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the deadliest week since the uprising began. tonight we have news about the crippling drought across the country. our friends at the weather channel say temperatures will be scorching from the great lakes to the plains this week. 100 degree heat and not enough rain to make an impact. tonight we are learning what really happened after a day long mystery involving michael jackson's mother, katherine. one of her nephews reported her missing. paris jackson reported she hadn't spoken to her grandmother in a week. katherine jackson is safe and sound. she suffered a mini stroke and is resting with family members under the care of a doctor in arizona. bottom line, she is not missing. when we come back here tonight london calling for yoko ono.
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the power of a smile is the basis of a new art project on exhibit here in london. it is the work of a woman you likely know well who after suddenly losing her husband found the answer to healing her pain was written across her face. >> reporter: there is more than just the olympics and a break from the rain that has londoners smiling these days. the whole world is smiling this light hearted project on display at the serpentine gallery, the hope of artist yoko ono when she mused on the idea. >> i envisioned the whole world smiling together. >> reporter: the idea that a smile had the power to heal really took hold forono in the days and months after the murder of her husband back when it seemed there could never be anything to smile about. >> every day in the morning when i see the mirror i try to smile.
it is very hard. in the beginning it was so ph y phony. but then i started to really smile. >> reporter: she calls the project hash tag smiles film. there was no public internet or twitter back when she started thinking about it. technology has caught up askando is asking people to snap a picture and smile. >> if we all start to smile in the world something will happen. i think that it will be better for the world maybe. >> reporter: featured in the gallery exhibit a slow motion film of lenin breaking into a smile. over the years ono has dedicated herself to peace, a message she shared with her husband. the two famously staged a
vetting for peace in 1969. in 2011 she created the imagine peace tower in iceland. she said she likes to think john is smiling about smiles but it is not hard to. >> you think john is smiling with us now? >> he would love it. it is the kind of thing he liked. >> reporter: ready? >> okay. i like this. >> reporter: maybe it is true. when you smile the whole world really does smile with you. we have put more information on the smiles film project on our website, nbcnightlynews.com. we will be on the air with live coverage of the president's remarks from aurora, colorado when they happen. i'm lester holt